RON SEXSMITH > Time Being

Now 15 years and nine albums into his career, Ron Sexsmith must wonder what he has to do to get some attention. A model of consistency, his best albums aren’t that much different than his worst, just as his greatest songs are only a hair more engaging than his worst, and records like Time Being seem designed to be cherished by a small group of critics, musicians, and singer/songwriter aficionados.

Label: Ironworks
[Rating: 4 Stars]

Now 15 years and nine albums into his career, Ron Sexsmith must wonder what he has to do to get some attention. A model of consistency, his best albums aren’t that much different than his worst, just as his greatest songs are only a hair more engaging than his worst, and records like Time Being seem designed to be cherished by a small group of critics, musicians, and singer/songwriter aficionados. That’s not to say that Sexsmith is an indistinctive singer/songwriter-far from it. He’s simply not the kind of songwriter who makes grand gestures either good or bad.

After a half-decade of experimenting with different producers-from the hard-edged approach of Steve Earle to the electronic-tinged pop of Martin Terefe-he’s back in the saddle with Mitchell Froom, the man who forged the classic Sexsmith template on a trio of albums in the mid-‘90s. Back are the chiming acoustic guitars, the gentle drums and the dry vocals of those early albums, but at the center remains Sexsmith’s utterly ingenious melodic sense. From the bittersweet minor chord changes that touch “Hand of Time” to the fuzzy backbeat and Byrdsy guitar jangle of “All in Good Time” and the crooner pop of “Reason for Our Love,” it’s an album that plays to all of his strengths as a tunesmith. With “The Grim Trucker,” Sexsmith even throws a rare curveball, indulging in a strange, multi-section experiment that marries acoustic balladry with jaunty Tin Pan Alley piano pop and stormy psychedelic rock.

For those who’d like to see him stretch out, it’s nearly revelatory, but Ron Sexsmith has never been about reinvention. Taken on those terms, Time Being is as masterful as you’d expect, leaving it as just another entry in his canon of humble classics. 

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

VICKY MCGEHEE: Tweaking Her Dream

BRANDI CARLILE: Writing the Subconscious